Darkness fell with little progress in the siege. That was the nature of sieges, supposed Oclatinius. Long periods of time with nothing much happening. Weren’t the Greeks outside Troy for ten years?
But this town with its flimsy defences was no Troy, nor was the sickly century a Trojan army. And much as Quintillius seemed to be a competent commander, there was no Hector in their ranks. So he didn’t think it would take ten years to reduce their defences. He thought they would be lucky to hold out ten days.
Still the last attack had been beaten back with just a couple of soldiers wounded, one of whom would be out of action for the foreseeable future after an arrow went through his shoulder, the other who had a graze to his thick skull still able to fight once he had shaken off the concussion. The gates still held, despite some more scorch marks appearing, and the Parthians had retreated to their camp for the night. From his guard tower, Oclatinius watched their distant campfires, like stars strewn across the dark, barren landscape, and wished for a bath, a bed, and a city free from disease and soldiers trying to kill him.
He was glad when his watch ended and he was relieved by a solitary legionary. He had kept lookout alone in his tower. Numbers were so depleted by battle and illness that they could no longer double up, unless they kept watch all night, which would mean no rest before the expected renewed attack in the morning. He saluted the young soldier, then noticed with a shudder that the lad had a few pustules on his face. In that light he couldn’t tell if it was acne or the pox, and he decided that saying something would achieve nothing, and might even cause the soldier to run, terrified, to Fulvius, meaning Oclatinius would have to remain on watch. So he said nothing, and descended the ladder to find his tent and a few short hours of sleep.